Heroic efforts combating the Beast are recognised

Mike and Jamie Hope from Wooler.  Picture by Jane Coltman
Mike and Jamie Hope from Wooler. Picture by Jane Coltman

Farmers, 4x4 owners and community leaders who helped Northumberland overcome the Beast from the East have been thanked for their efforts.

Northumbria Police invited them to a get-together in Belford to acknowledge their vital roles in getting the county moving again following the heavy snowfall in late February.

The winter heroes and representatives from Northumbria Police who attended the event in Belford.'Picture by Jane Coltman

The winter heroes and representatives from Northumbria Police who attended the event in Belford.'Picture by Jane Coltman

It was also an opportunity for the indivuduals involved to share stories of digging cars out of the snow, helping to deliver medical supplies and prescriptions and organising emergency food and accommodation for those left stranded.

Among those who helped was Rod Smith, of Beal Farm, who worked long stints to clear the A1 and the link road to Holy Island despite the tidal causeway being ice-bound.

“That was just the tip of the iceberg if you pardon the pun,” said Rod. “The snow was at hedge height on the mainland and people just couldn’t get off Holy Island.

“I spent 10 hours one day digging it out but I think that’s something a lot of the farmers and others did.

Richard White, who works for Spours, helped to clear the A1. Picture by Jane Coltman

Richard White, who works for Spours, helped to clear the A1. Picture by Jane Coltman

“Communities have drifted apart over the years but I think this has highlighted that there are a lot of people out there who will help out in a crisis. Every down-side has an up-side and that has been bringing the community back together.”

Andrew Reed, of East Ancroft Farm helped to keep the Berwick-Wooler road open and the minor roads around Allerdean, Cheswick and Goswick.

“I spent a lot of time pulling out cars which had tried to find an alternative route to the A1,” he said. “A number of them were foreign visitors and they were genuinely grateful.”

He also helped someone travelling to hospital for dialysis to get through the drifts.

Daniel Spours, from Twizell Farm, helped clear roads and deliver medicine. Picture by Jane Coltman

Daniel Spours, from Twizell Farm, helped clear roads and deliver medicine. Picture by Jane Coltman

Of the get-together, he added: “It was a nice gesture to get that acknowledgement and recognition. If it hadn’t been for people in the countryside there would have been a bigger mess. People could have lost lives.”

Father-and-son Mike and Jamie Hope, of Wooler garage, had a similar story to tell.

“There were cars stranded at Barmoor South Moor for 11 hours,” he recalled. “We had to dig our way eight miles to help them.”

They also delivered medication and even supplied shepherds with special vehicle tracks so they could access their livestock.

Andrew Reed, from East Ancroft. Picture by Jane Coltman

Andrew Reed, from East Ancroft. Picture by Jane Coltman

He was also full of praise for the community spirit shown.

“It was absolutely fantastic,” he said. “Lots of people wanted to help in any way they could.”

Rod Smith from Beal.'Picture by Jane Coltman

Rod Smith from Beal.'Picture by Jane Coltman

Rev Matthew Knox and Julie Riley, of Berwick Deserves Better, helped organise food and accommodation. Picture by Jane Coltman

Rev Matthew Knox and Julie Riley, of Berwick Deserves Better, helped organise food and accommodation. Picture by Jane Coltman

Geoff Frater, from Boulmer, was among those who helped. Picture by Jane Coltman

Geoff Frater, from Boulmer, was among those who helped. Picture by Jane Coltman